Kevin Pietersen believes the fearless brand of one-day cricket England have played under Eoin Morgan means they can win the World Cup for the first time.
England, who launch the tournament against South Africa at the Oval on Thursday, have transformed their approach to the one-day international game under Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss since their embarrassing first-round exit at the 2015 edition.
“When you are allowed to fail you can play some unbelievable sport,” former England batsman Pietersen, one of the most talented runscorers of his generation, said at the official tournament opening in London on Wednesday.
“That is what Morgan and Bayliss have done.” The former England skipper praised Morgan’s leadership.
“He’s cool, he’s calm and he has the backing of his players, which is the most important thing,” he said. “And you get supported by your players when you know that your leader is supporting you.
“I think the most encouraging thing about this England team is that they are allowed to fail. That has been just the biggest turnaround in what they are doing.”
England boast a powerful batting order, with the gifted Jos Buttler capable of changing matches in a few overs from the middle order.
Pietersen, whose fallout with the English cricket hierarchy ended his international career, said Morgan’s men now had a much better chance of winning the World Cup than when he was playing.
But the South Africa-born Pietersen, 38, warned England to ignore the hype as they go in search of a first World Cup title and said being number one in the rankings would count for little.
“I mean you guys [the media] have already said that they are winning the World Cup. I have been part of that whole syndrome, where they will build you up, build you up and you guys are ready to eat them.”
“Hopefully they can put aside what you guys write about them. They’ve just been beaten by Australia [in a warm-up game] on the weekend as well so it’s going to be a testing time for them,” he added.